Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 228: Extra 1
After arriving in London, first Gu Yu and Zhang Siyi decided to check into a hotel in the neighborhood that they wanted to reside in. Gu Yu had a high standard of living so they wanted to take their time in choosing an apartment instead of signing a contract through online advertisers in advance.
Even though Gu Yu had money, since the cost of renting an apartment in London was more expensive than back home, Zhang Siyi urged Gu Yu to be economical in picking a place to live. Even with economics in mind, since they didn’t have time to travel far from the suburbs to the city center where the University was located, they wanted the convenience of living within walking distance to their classes. The high rental cost of the area proved how desirable it was. In order to keep costs to a minimum, Gu Yu compromised and choose a studio apartment to live in.
Zhang Siyi was a bit flustered: “Isn’t it a bad idea to live in a studio apartment?”
Typically, a Studio was very small with 1 double bed and could be rented by either a single person or a couple. The one they were inspecting had an open kitchen area, one small bathroom and one main living space that was roughly 30 square meters.
Gu Yu replied: “What’s so bad about it? You can see the park out the window and there is a supermarket downstairs. Since it’s only ten minutes to the University, it’s very convenient to live here.”
Zhang Siyi glanced at the strange-looking real-estate agent and whispered to Gu Yu in Chinese: “Two men living in a studio with one bed. What do you think, other people will think?”
Gu Yu thought it was funny: “What’s gotten into you? We are already a couple.” As he spoke, he reached out to hold Zhang Siyi’s hand.
Zhang Siyi: “…”
Now that the rental contract was signed, they could move in without problems. As they waited for the elevator, the real-estate agent asked: “So, you guys are a gay couple?”
Gu Yu generously admitted: “Yes.”
The agent smiled broadly and commented: “You look very loving together. I wish you happiness.”
Gu Yu thanked him, and turned to Zhang Siyi after the man left: “The people in England certainly seem more relaxed about it than the Chinese.”
Written all over his face was a myriad of facial expressions; anxiety, shock, irritation. Zhang Siyi raised his voice and exclaimed: “Wait! You weren’t planning on hiding our relationship?”
Gu Yu squeezed Zhang Siyi’s hand: “We are already wearing rings, what is there to hide?”
Zhang Siyi was a feeling angrier. Without knowing, he always felt like he was caught up in the act. He couldn’t help but complain: “But you gave it to me while I was on the phone.”
Gu Yu grabbed his hand: “You don’t want it? Then …”
Zhang Siyi thought he was going to take it back. Immediately alarmed, he clenched his hand into a fist and yanked it away. Protecting his fist with the other and holding it to his chest, he said: “No one said anything.”
Peering at him, Gu Yu smirked: “Heh.”
Zhang Siyi: “…” (= 皿 =)
Gu Yu went on to explain: “Since I’m not your boss anymore, we don’t need to be so careful. Besides, we are abroad and we don’t have to worry about how others see us, so just be free. Anyways, when we return home to China, we will never see these foreigners again.
Zhang Siyi was somewhat moved by Gu Yu. Indeed, not worrying about how other people think of you was a step that required courage to take. As it was with the real-estate agent, if you are open and honest, then perhaps they could also receive the sincere blessing from others.
Zhang Siyi joked: “What if we become famous one day, like winning the Pritzker Prize. When we receive the prize on stage, someone is bound to recognize us. They will point us out, laugh at us and make fun of us. If they have proof, they could tell everyone we are gay.”
Zhang Siyi’s exaggerated tone made Gu Yu unable to listen to him. He raised his hand and flicked his forehead. He said: “The Plitzker Prize… Keep dreaming.”
Covering his forehead, Zhang Siyi was so angry that he shouted: “You haven’t thought about it? You must have a goal!”
Gu Yu chuckled: “Yes, but your goals of fame and fortune are too unrealistic. For me, designing and building is in itself worth enjoying. It doesn’t matter whether or not I become famous or win awards. If it’s true, then it’s fine to be recognized, but all celebrities have to endure what others say about them. Regardless, it shouldn’t affect our ability to do our jobs.”
Zhang Siyi: “…”
A few days later, they made plans to visit IKEA to buy furniture and a bed and bath home supply store to buy sheets, blankets, bathroom accessories and kitchen supplies. On their way home from the suburbs, they discovered a home improvement store that sold supplies for renovation projects. There, they were able to purchase enough wood and tools to make custom shelving and bookcases for their apartment.
At home, utilizing the new materials they purchased, Gu Yu set to work on optimizing the space by making a few partitions within the apartment and building custom shelving thereby eliminating any dead space present.
Now finished, they carefully unpacked the specialty boxes that were shipped from home that contained one large cactus and one smaller one and set the plants on the windowsill. During the shipping the plants had been jostled around substantially. When they removed the outer packaging, there was dirt spilled all around the inside of the inner package. While the exposed cactus roots were troubling, the more problematic issue was the damage to the ball.
Having went through great lengths to save it in the past, Zhang Siyi was emotionally attached to this particular cactus. He panicked and asked: “Will it die?”
Unlike Zhang Siyi, Gu Yu remained very calm. He casually replied: “It’s okay. This cactus is a hearty plant. We can buy some potting soil later and replant it, but for now, go outside to the flower garden a bring in some soil.”
As for why Gu Yu could take the big cactus ball away from the office without being obstructed….. Who’s the director? He had the privilege. ╮ (╯_╰) ╭
In addition to the furniture and accessories to decorate their home, Gu Yu also bought office supplies and the necessary tools specific for architectural work. Furthermore, despite the small home, he bought a scanner, printer and light table, and even a drafting table, which was normally very bulky, for Zhang Siyi to use.
With regards to Gu Yu’s recent spending habits, Zhang Siyi was shocked. “Why did you buy the equipment yourself? There are facilities and printers at the University to use!”
Gu Yu explained: “If you want to do well, consistency is important. Before we left, I asked Tao Fei about the facilities in the department and he said that the printers are heavily used and often times you need to wait in a queue. It’s better to have your own, especially earlier in the school year because of the large volume one needs to print. Overall, in two years-time, the cost will be about the same. Besides, since it’s the two of us, it’s definitely not a poor investment.”
Not understanding his thinking, Zhang Siyi asked: “But what about the drafting and light table? My drawing skills aren’t so good and I mainly use a computer.”
Gu Yu raised an eyebrow and scoffed: “You aren’t good at drawing? Then practice! I’ve tolerated your shortcoming for a long time. As an architect, how can you not know how to draft and draw by hand? You are even embarrassed to admit it yourself!”
Zhang Siyi was choked with anger. He looked around at the now over crowded space in the apartment. Having a bone to pick, he debated: “But it’s so expensive and you bought too much!“
Gu Yu laughed: “I am rich.”
Quickly, Zhang Siyi reproached him and stated: “Why didn’t you just buy a 3D printer then!?”
Gu Yu looked him in the eye and said: “You just can’t let it go.”
Zhang Siyi: “…”
He gave up. It seemed like Gu Yu had already calculated the size of the room and purchased the exact necessary equipment to facility their growth with nothing more and nothing less. While the room appeared crowded, it was in fact very easy to move around and live in. After approximately ten days, the two were able to finish decorating their new home.
Other than the bathroom, there weren’t separate rooms. Without walls to hide behind, one was visible at any vantage point in the room. This feeling, as if it wasn’t possible to have a secret between two people, was really amazing.
In the evening, as Zhang Siyi and Gu Yu relaxed together in bed cuddling, Zhang Siyi still felt like he was in a dream. The fact that Gu Yu followed him to England was incredible and he continued to feel like it was unreal. As time went on and Zhang Siyi accepted the facts in front of him, he had a profound sense of well-being and felt happier than ever.
Since their bed faced south, sunlight poured into the room each morning illuminating them just like it had in Gu Yu’s bedroom in Yuanshan Garden. It was clear he took this fact into consideration when he chose this studio apartment to rent.
With a week to go until the start of the school year, spending their time care-free, they toured London, went shopping and hung out with friends. Some of Zhang Siyi’s classmates were still living in London. When they learned he was returning to England to study for a Master’s degree, each of them asked Zhang Siyi out for a reunion dinner.
Unexpectedly, even Yu Rui messaged him and invited him out to eat. While he wasn’t particularly close with the girl, he remembered his friend’s comments about her and as a result, he kept his distance and rejected her invitation.
Having maintained a good relationship with Xue Wenhan, he met up with his friend. He learned that after graduation, Xue Wenhan stayed in London and ultimately decided to work for a Chinese travel agency.
Zhang Siyi was dumbfounded: “Why did you spend all that time earning a Master’s degree if you were going to change your career!?”
Distressed, Xue Wenhan rebuked him: “Hey, if it was so easy to find an architectural position in London, I would have. I was turned away by more than a dozen offices. On the other hand, a company outside of architected wanted to hire me so I decided work there for the time being and figure it out slowly.”
Zhang Siyi: “Did you know that Yu Rui was hired by F Firm?”
Xue Wenhan: “Yeah, I know. She’s really good.”
Harboring some bitterness, both of them looked at each other with understanding and laughed. They didn’t gossip about her further. Instead, they talked about the employment situation in the construction industry of Britain.
The overall situation in the UK wasn’t much better than that of their own country. Like that of China, there was also a saturation of architect’s and not enough projects. Zhang Siyi was worried about his prospects: “When I graduate, will I be able to get a job?” ….Then what was Gu Yu’s investment for???
Xue Wenhan laughed: “It’ll be different for you since you applied for RIBA part 2. Study well and you will certainly be able to find a nice job in the future.”
The following day, Gu Yu took him to see one of his friends who was a former classmate from T University. He also graduated from Big A Master’s program and stayed in London ever since. Although he wasn’t qualified to obtain a RIBA license, because of his strong ability and experience over seven years, he was a senior project leader at a well-known architectural firm.
When Gu Yu and Zhang Siyi mentioned that they weren’t thinking of applying for work in Britain, Gu Yu’s friend offered to help.
The man interviewed them at a restaurant in Chinatown and was so excited to see an old friend that he vigorously shook Gu Yu’s hand and said: “Hello, hello! How many years has it been? I didn’t expect you to come to England.”
Recounting a few warm moments in the old days, they enthusiastically greeted each other. Noticing the ring on Gu Yu finger, he was surprised and exclaimed: “Shit! Are you married? Why didn’t you tell me?”
Gu Yu laughed. Tilting his head, he gestured to Zhang Siyi who was standing foolishly on the side. He pulled him over and said: “Here, let me introduce you. This is my lover, Zhang Siyi.”